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Can You Fail a Home Study?

The adoption home study is one of the first steps any hopeful family takes in the adoption process. So, it’s normal to be nervous. Even the most prepared families wonder, “Can you fail a home study?” And the answer is yes, but it’s not common.

What is a Home Study?

A home study is one of the most integral parts of preparing a family for an adoption. It is designed to both make sure the home is safe for a child and make sure the child receives the care, attention, and upbringing that they need and deserve. So what does the home study entail?

A highly-trained social worker will visit the family’s home, interview family members and their references, as well as review the family’s financial history, to assess their suitability for adoption. The adoption social worker is working to screen a family in to the adoption process, as well as give the prospective adoptive family an education about adoption. The adoptive family will learn more about adoption and explore what adoption and parenting mean to them. The home study also helps the adoption agency learn about the family’s adoption wishes which helps to carefully match an adoptive family with a birth family and baby.

The findings from the home study and all the documents submitted by the family are compiled into a final home study report. The entire process can take up to 90 days to complete.

Can You Fail a Home Study?

“Even though it feels that they are looking for something you did wrong or it feels kind of invasive, the social workers are on your team,” says one adoptive mother. “They want you to succeed, and they want to find happy, healthy homes for babies who need to be adopted.” 

As we said earlier, the home study is designed to screen a family in, not out. However, there are still certain circumstances that can arise, causing a hopeful family to fail the home study. Here are a few reasons some families fail.

  • Dishonesty. It is always important to be honest throughout the adoption process. After all, adoption is about finding a safe and suitable home for a child. If you are dishonest in your paperwork or during the home study process, the social worker will eventually find our and it will be a red flag.
  • Felony conviction. Anyone with a criminal record involving child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, sex crime, or any crimes against children will not be approved following the home study process.
    • Financial difficulties. Raising a child is a big financial commitment. This is why the adoption social worker takes a thorough look at a potential family’s financial situation.
  • Health issues. Raising a child is a lot of work. If you have any debilitating or life-threatening health issues, it may be a red flag. But remember to always be honest. If you feel your particular situation won’t inhibit your ability to care for a child, have your physician or therapist prepare a letter detailing your specific situation. Health conditions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Other family members. If you have other family members living in your home, they will also be part of the home study process and, if any issues arise, they could be the reason you fail.
  • Unsafe home. If you are planning to bring a child into your home, it is important to ensure the home is ready. 

Preparing for a Home Study

If you’re worried about the home study, “there are a few things you can do to prepare,” says Julia K. Porter, Family Handyman. Here are a few tips.

  • Prepare necessary documents. You may have some of the necessary paperwork already. Others you may need to request, which takes time.
  • Practice standard questions. Running through mock interviews can help ease your mind. Here are a few examples of questions you may be asked during the home study.
      • Why do you want to adopt?
      • Do you have a gender preference?
      • Are you willing to adopt a special needs child?
      • Are you open to transracial adoption?
      • What level of openness are you looking for in your adoption?
      • How do you envision your parenting style?
      • If you have any current children, how have you or will you prepare them as you bring a new child into your home?
  • Prepare your own questions. The home study is also your opportunity to ask questions. Just like a job interview, it can be helpful to have a few questions prepared.
  • Start childproofing. “Having your home ready for children shows the social worker you are serious and responsible,” says Porter. And don’t forget the yard, especially if you have a pool.
  • Don’t forget your pets. If you have pets, the social worker will check to see how they interact with strangers. “If they aren’t going to get along with a guest, they probably aren’t going to be a fan of a new addition to your family,” says Porter.
  • Choose a qualified and caring adoption agency. Adoption Makes Family is a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland, and our licensed home study professionals have over 18 years of experience conducting home studies. We provide home studies for both domestic and international adoptions. We “Screen in” rather than “screen out” families and strive for efficiency and organization, all the while maintaining a feeling of warmth and compassion that must come with growing families. To start the Home Study process, call 410-683-2100 for more information. Or you can also download the application here and send it to the agency with the $400 application fee. The initial interview with Adoption Makes Family is at the agency. Then there is the in-home visit. There will also be inspections from the health department and the fire department.

If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at or use our online contact form


  1. “10 Things To Help You Prepare For The Home Study.”,
  2. “How to Prepare for a Home Study.” Binti,
  3. Porter, Julia K. “How to Get Your House Ready for an Adoption Home Study.” The Family Handyman, The Family Handyman, 20 Mar. 2019,
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